Eurocopter, the world’s leading helicopter manufacturer, met its business and delivery objectives for 2009 and stabilised its turnover at the level of its record year, 2008. The world economic crisis caused a sharp order decline in the civil market for light helicopters. However, governmental orders have over-compensated in value the drop in commercial unit sales, leading to the second-best result of order intakes in Eurocopter’s history. In line with Eurocopter’s roadmap, the Support and Services business was also strengthened with the signature of a number of significant contracts.
Deliveries remained stable with 558 new civil and military helicopters delivered in 2009 and almost matching the peak level of 2008. This figure reinforces Eurocopter’s position as a major branded business division within EADS, accounting for a consolidated turnover of 4.6 billion Euros. Order bookings suffered a decline in terms of units sold, but not in value. A net total of 344 new aircraft, including 81 Super Puma/Cougar/EC225/EC725 family helicopters, were sold, amounting to 5.8 billion Euros.
With around 460 gross orders, Eurocopter secured its No. 1 market position in the civil and parapublic market. The company’s total order backlog at the end of 2009 amounted to a robust 1,300 helicopters or the equivalent of 15.1 billion Euros, an increase of more than 1 billion Euros compared to the end of 2008.
While governmental markets remain stable despite of budget constraints, a full recovery of the commercial markets in 2010 is not evident. The lower order intake for light helicopters in 2009 will lead to lower production rates in 2010, while military helicopter rates will increase, a situation Eurocopter should be able to manage with its built-in flexibility.
55 percent of the company’s turnover achieved in 2009 was related to serial helicopters (equalling 2.5 billion Euros), 35 percent (1.6 billion Euros) derived out of support and services, whereas 10 percent (0.5 billion Euros) were realized from development and other activities.
While 52 percent of the turnover derived from civil and parapublic sales, 48 percent was related to Eurocopter’s military products. The company thereby retained its healthy balance between the civil and military markets. The export share is 65 percent, with 35 percent achieved in the company’s domestic markets (i.e., France, Germany, Spain), proving Eurocopter’s successful strategy of expanding its activities to emerging markets.
The breakdown of order bookings is as follows: serial helicopters 65 percent (3.8 billion Euros), support and services 31 percent (1.8 billion Euros) and development and other activities 4 percent (0.2 billion Euros). Eurocopter’s bookings for support and services have grown consistently by an average of 10 to 15 percent over the past three years. Regarding the 2009 bookings, military and civil products count for 70 and 30 percent respectively. The total export rate amounts to 66 percent.
Bookings related to product range
2009 orders were placed for 344 production helicopters as follows:
- 8 units of EC120 Colibri
- 103 units of the AS350/355 Ecureuil/Fennec/EC130 family
- 58 units of EC135
- 63 units of EC145 (including 51 UH-72A Lakota)
- 9 units of the Dauphin/Panther/EC155 family
- 81 units of the Super Puma/CougarEC225/EC725 family
- 22 NH90
Eurocopter CEO Lutz Bertling stated, “Our global industrial footprint and our comprehensive, innovative product and services portfolio have proven to be an asset in this difficult economic period. Not all geographic areas and market segments are equally affected by the crisis. The downturn in the corporate, tourism and EMS markets which typically acquire smaller helicopters has been countered by a stable oil and gas market due to new exploration activities, and by a strong military market. Our decision to focus, in 2009, on governmental and services orders has proven to be right and allowed us to increase our backlog by more than 1 billion Euros. While the United States and Eastern Europe, for instance, have been heavily affected by the crisis, Latin America, Asia and Western Europe kept up relatively well. In 2009, we have continued to expand our industrial presence in the UK, Japan, the USA, Australia, Brazil, Singapore and Thailand, while at the same time investing more resources into Research & Development and new products. We will be ready for future market requirements when the economy recovers.”
Eurocopter’s key highlights in 2009 were the roll-out of the KUH (Korean Utility Helicopter), developed jointly with Korea Aerospace Industries, on July 31, and the maiden flight of the EC175, a joint development with Avic of China, on December 4. Both programmes are precisely on schedule and show great market potential already at this early stage.
The Tiger has been deployed to Afghanistan by the French Armed Forces, proving unparalleled reliability and serviceability in the operational theatre. NH90 deliveries have continued throughout 2009 with a fleet of 40 helicopters in the tactical transport version now in service in five countries. The first naval NH90 has been handed over to the Netherlands.
Deliveries of the UH-72A Lakota for the US Army and Navy are approaching 100, all of them on time or even ahead of schedule. An order for a further 51 Lakotas was placed in December. The deployed Lakota fleet has accumulated over 21,000 flight hours to date, Eurocopter’s Support and Services section booked three major orders, one for the retrofit of 26 German Army CH53s for personnel recovery mission, one for the Life Extension of 28 Royal Air Force Pumas, and one for the retrofit of 34 Brazilian Army Panthers. The range of Eurocopter’s services has also been expanded substantially in 2009, with the inauguration of new simulators at Helisim, HFTS, American Eurocopter and Eurocopter Deutschland, the installation of 24/7 customer service centres in Hong Kong and Dallas, a new logistics platform in France, and guaranteed ad hoc support to all customers.
Challenges for 2010
Facing an unpredictable market situation, Eurocopter has launched an internal programme designated SHAPE with the following aims:
1. Save cash (short term), implement cost reductions to save ?200 million per year, and reduce inventory, both to generate the cash for investing in the company’s future.
2. Improve productivity and efficiency, implement faster, simplified processes.
3. Invest into new projects such as the X4 (successor for the Dauphin), the Aerial Armed Scout proposed to the US Army together with Lockheed Martin, and the Future Transport Helicopter. In addition, Eurocopter will boost environmental, safety and performance/cost technologies for the benefit of its customers. With bluecopter® by Eurocopter, environmental friendliness has become a focus for Eurocopter’s innovation works.
The company’s SHAPE programme is the right step towards implementing the Eurocopter Vision 2020. With these targets, combined with its strong order backlog, Eurocoper is well-placed to weather the challenges of the years to come.
Established in 1992, the Franco-German-Spanish Eurocopter Group is a Division of EADS, a world leader in aerospace, defence and related services. The Eurocopter Group employs approx. 15,600 people. In 2009, Eurocopter confirmed its position as the world’s No. 1 helicopter manufacturer in the civil and parapublic market, with a turnover of 4.6 billion Euros, orders for 344 new helicopters, and a 52 percent market share in the civil and parapublic sectors. Overall, the Group’s products account for 30 percent of the total world helicopter fleet. Its strong worldwide presence is ensured by its 18 subsidiaries on five continents, along with a dense network of distributors, certified agents and maintenance centres. More than 10,500 Eurocopter helicopters are currently in service with over 2,800 customers in more than 140 countries. Eurocopter offers the largest civil and military helicopter range in the world.